Just another Day on Aerosol Earth by NASA – A well-done picture highlighting the very diverse aerosol types and their heterogeneous distributions!

Just Another Day on Aerosol Earth
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Credit NASA, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92654/just-another-day-on-aerosol-earth).

 

Have you seen this very recent visualisation aerosol mapping, released by NASA and made by Joshua Stevens? This visualisation very nicely highlights the different aerosol types and their complex distribution on Earth for a single day, 23rd August 2018, based on the GEOS FP model output. Some satellite observations were assimilated to constrain the modelling of atmospheric transport and physical processes.

Atmospheric aerosol are particles suspended in the air. Their sources are very mixed. Aerosol can be man-made or natural: e.g. smoke, desert dust, sea spray, nitrates and sulfates. The aerosol effects on the sunlight modify the shortwave radiation field in the atmosphere. This directly impacts the climate and the satellite observations devoted to ocean surface, land surface, vegetation, and atmospheric gases. Furthermore, heavy load of aerosols affects our air quality.

In spite of many progresses during the last 10-20 years, aerosol observations from space-borne instruments remain incredibly complex. One of the main reasons is their heterogeneity: aerosols are everywhere, but with very variable quantities  spatially (horizontally and vertically!), and temporally. And, as highlighted by this NASA picture, aerosol types are also very heterogeneous! Retrieving all these parameters from single satellite measurements, without ambiguity with respect to surface characteristics and clouds, is the difficult task of the scientists working with atmospheric satellite measurements. Many works to continue to do…

 

More information

  • NASA WebPage “Just another Day on Aerosol Earth” here
  • Aerosol WebPage here

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